Taboo stepped out of character this week with an action-packed and nail-biting finale. Though the finale episode did end with a bang, the season ended pretty much how we thought it would, leaving us to question Taboo’s future.
Episode 8 opens with a pretty dramatic and gruesome start. Zilpha jumps off a bridge as we watch her slowly sink to the bottom of the river, mimicking the bewitching title sequence we’ve been seeing for weeks. Delaney, still unaware of his sister/lover’s tragic death, continues to suffer in jail as he waits for his meeting with the Crown. Luckily, Delaney has many pawns in his game and uses them to continue out his plan. With the key Delaney gave him prior to getting arrested, Robert begins delivering a handful of letters that were left in the chest. As Robert passes on the letters to all of Delaney’s pawns, we start to gain an even further appreciation for how clever Delaney truly is.
After meeting with Sir Stuart Strange, Delaney blackmails him into finding them a ship or else he will spill all of Strange’s secrets regarding the sinking of The Influence. Strange reluctantly agrees, but still believes he will have the advantage. As the plan starts to play out, Delaney is finally released from lockup, once again having the upper hand on both the Crown and the East India Company. Coop runs to the Prince Regent and tells him all about Delaney’s power play. Sick and tired of all the Delaney drama, the prince orders for his death.
When Delaney makes it home, he walks in to find a letter from Zilpha explaining how she is “Planning to journey to heaven.” Hardy does in fact do a wonderful job of portraying a vulnerable and scared side of Delaney that we haven’t seen before. However, the sorrow is short-lived as Lorna cheers him up, and they go on with business as usual.
Thanks to the not-so-willing help from Countess Musgrove, the crew now has safe passage to the U.S. Now all they need is the ship. Surprisingly, Strange delivers, and they begin loading up for the voyage. Unfortunately, they are greeted by a slew of soldiers and suffer some casualties. Minus the setback, they are all able to get on board and start sailing off into the sunset, but Delaney isn’t done just yet. One last package was delivered to Strange just before departure and, thanks to the help of Chumley, the package explodes in Strange’s smug face as he opens it. Delaney proves once and for all, that he is always one step ahead.
As the ship sails away, they begin to lower the British flag and raise the American flag. Delaney then tells the crew that they are heading somewhere in Portugal to begin trading. A confused Atticus states that he thought the gunpowder was for the Americans, then Delaney replies, “We are the Americans.” This twist once again solidifies Delaney’s position as the ultimate puppeteer, as he has just outsmarted both the British and the Americans.
This episode was action-packed, and served as a good finale for a compelling tale. Although there were some good and exciting surprises, the majority of its content did seem somewhat predictable. Sure they lost a few friends, but all in all it was a happy storybook ending that we could have predicted from the first episode.
One of the biggest disappoints of this series as a whole was Zilpha. Every week I had hope that her character would develop into something engaging. Particularly after she murdered her husband, I hoped that she would transform into a compelling and dominating character, but it seems that Taboo was toying with us. After her insubstantial death and Delaney’s quick fit of sadness, she was completely forgotten about. I’m not sure what purpose she served other than to provide some sort of complex love interest for the main protagonist. In the end, Zilpha was a wasted character that deserved better.
With the foreseeable finale and Zilpha’s lack of significance aside, Taboo did have a lot to offer. It was beautifully made, flawlessly performed, and impeccably detailed to portray the grittiness of early 19th century London. The title sequence was visually striking, and the soundtrack was resonant and fitting. James Delaney was a riveting character that surprised us to the very end. It is evident that Tom Hardy put a lot of hard work into his character, and it proved to be a driving force that served as a strong backbone over the course of the entire season.
Even though it isn’t that big of a surprise that the show has yet to be picked up for a second season, Tom Hardy and Steven Knight have both expressed their intention to continue on with the show. All things considered, the show had an interesting plot and was well made, but the show lacked ingenuity and memorability. Did I enjoy Taboo while watching it? Yes. Will I be sad if it doesn’t return? Not really.